Beckman Triumphs in all-Mopar Dodge//SRT Funny Car Final at Brainerd
· Win by Jack Beckman is seventh for a Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Funny Car driver this season
· Victory is first for Beckman at Brainerd, second of year, 28th of career
· Tommy Johnson Jr. takes runner-up in all-Don Schumacher Racing final round
· Mopar-powered NHRA Sportsman racer Brian Johnson captures NHRA Super Stock win
· Johnson, Steve Scherschligt earn Dodge Top Finisher honors in Super Stock and Stock
August 19, 2018, Auburn Hills, Mich. – Jack Beckman raced to victory in an all-Mopar Dodge//SRT Funny Car final round matchup with teammate Tommy Johnson Jr., at the NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota, taking his second win of the season and the seventh of the year for a Mopar-powered Dodge//SRT Funny Car driver.
Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) driver Beckman’s triumph is the 28th of his career in 56 final rounds, and his first at Brainerd International Raceway. Both Beckman and Johnson clinched spots in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs during the weekend, meaning all six DSR Mopar Dodge//SRT drivers in Funny Car and Top Fuel have earned berths with one race to spare before the start of the six-race playoffs in mid-September. Mopar Dodge//SRT competitors have now combined for 10 wins this season in the NHRA Funny Car and Top Fuel classes.
The Infinite Hero Dodge driver’s road to the final was anything but easy after starting in the bottom half of the field at No. 14. First up was Mopar DSR teammate and three-time 2018 event winner Matt Hagan, who Beckman was able to defeat with a 4.044-second elapsed time (ET) at 312.64 mph despite dealing with a dropped cylinder. In the 650th round of his career, Beckman’s 3.980 run knocked out Shawn Langdon in the quarterfinals. It wasn’t enough to earn the 2012 Funny Car champion lane choice in the semifinals against points leader Courtney Force, but Beckman used a slight starting line advantage and 3.968/325.14 pass to take down Force and advance to the all-Mopar Dodge final against Johnson.
Beckman’s third career final round appearance at Brainerd was a charm, as a sharp .027 reaction time off the starting line paired with his quickest run of race day, 3.961 at 325.69 mph, propelled “Fast” Jack to his first winner’s circle celebration at Brainerd. Beckman’s other win of 2018 came back in March at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. The final-round appearance was Beckman’s third of the 2018 season.
Johnson, last year’s Brainerd Funny Car runner-up, was looking to take it one step further and finish Sunday in the BIR winner’s circle for the second time in his career. Behind the wheel of his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T, Johnson started race day from the fifth spot, knocking out Del Worsham in round one. Against Tim Wilkerson in round two, Johnson and the John Collins-led team threw down a monster 3.937-second pass which held up to be low E.T. of race day and earned the team a spot in the semifinals for the third time in three races.
Versus semifinal opponent J.R. Todd, Johnson was out of the gate first and never trailed for the win, setting up the all-DSR matchup in the finals against Beckman. Although his losing 4.031/319.67 mark in the final was not enough to end the day with the Wally trophy, Johnson clinched his Countdown to the Championship playoff berth on Sunday.
Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver Hagan, a three-time event winner this season, entered eliminations on Sunday searching for his first career win at Brainerd International Raceway. Hagan, starting solidly in the top half of the field in the No. 3 spot, drew DSR teammate Beckman in a matchup of Mopar HEMI machines. Both drivers dropped a cylinder, but Hagan’s Dodge was unable to match Beckman’s quicker and faster pass, keeping a Brainerd win as one of the few “to-do” items on the two-time Funny Car champion’s bucket list.
Mopar Dodge Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett, who took the top qualifier spot and event win in 2017 at Brainerd, started Sunday from the No. 8 position. Pritchett, runner-up in the most recent NHRA stop at Seattle and a two-time event winner this year, lined up in the first round against No. 9 qualifier Scott Palmer. The DSR driver’s hopes for a deep eliminations run ended when her dragster smoked the tires, with Palmer earning the win.
Fresh off of his 60th NHRA win and three consecutive final round appearances, Ron Capps entered Brainerd seeking his sixth title at the Minnesota track. Capps’ dominance continued in qualifying, earning the No. 2 spot in his Mopar-powered NAPA Dodge. In round one, Capps had the advantage at the starting line and held the lead over Jonnie Lindberg until just past halftrack when his car made a hard move toward the centerline followed by an engine malfunction, allowing Lindberg to claim the round win. Capps remains second in the standings.
Tony Schumacher, “The Sarge,” qualified No. 7 in his HEMI-engine fueled U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster and knocked off Terry McMillen in round one. The eight-time Top Fuel champion clocked a quick 3.771 run in the quarterfinals, but was edged out at the finish stripe on a holeshot loss to Steve Torrence by a margin of about six inches.
Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Sportsman Spotlight
Brian Johnson of Nowthen, Minnesota, raced a Mopar-powered 1973 Plymouth Duster 340 to his first career NHRA National event win in the Super Stock class, in his very first final-round appearance. Johnson qualified back in the pack at Brainerd, at No. 45 of 52 entries, then fought through six rounds to capture the victory. He defeated Jason DeForrest in the final, recording an 11.164/116.68 run after DeForrest left the starting line early and fouled out. The performance earned Johnson the Dodge Top Finisher award in Super Stock.
In Stock Eliminator, Steve Scherschligt of Tea, South Dakota, repeated as the Dodge Top Finisher in the class, after winning the award in 2017 at Brainerd. Scherschligt posted his Mopar-powered 1973 Plymouth Satellite in the top ten during qualifying, earning the No. 8 spot with a 11.229-second pass that was 0.921 under index. Scherschligt marched all the way to the semifinals, where he lost on a red light foul after leaving too early against Randi Lyn Shipp.
The Dodge Top Finisher award, now in its second year, awards $500 to Stock Eliminator and Super Stock drivers who advance the furthest behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered Dodge, Chrysler, or Plymouth race car at all 24 NHRA national events.
Mopar Dodge//SRT NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: Notes & Quotes
Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA
“The win today by Jack Beckman in an all-Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car final round once again proves that the combination of Mopar power and Dodge//SRT is tough to beat. Congratulations to Jack and his Infinite Hero Dodge team on their performance today at Brainerd.”
Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America
“The victory today by Jack Beckman reinforces that Dodge is America’s performance brand not only on the street, but also at the drag strip. The success this year of Jack and Don Schumacher Racing adds fuel for the enthusiasts who are passionate about our brand and the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.”
Jack Beckman, Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 14 Qualifier – 4.029 ET)
Rd.1: (.047-second reaction time, 4.044 seconds at 312.64 mph) beat to No. 3 Matt Hagan (.050/4.101/268.44)
Rd.2: (.062/3.980/324.83) beat to No. 6 Shawn Langdon (.049/4.019/321.42)
Rd.3: (.069/3.968/325.14) beat No. 10 Courtney Force (.074/4.040/320.51)
Rd.4: (.027/3.961/325.69) beat No. 5 Tommy Johnson Jr. (.068/4.031/319.67)
“Everyone is saying we can’t lose, because a Doug Chandler/Terry Chandler car is in the final round – but we can lose, because we’re the Infinite Hero car, and we want to win! Nobody goes into a final round thinking, ‘If we don’t win, we don’t win.’ It’s a big deal. You don’t know if your last win is your last win. We have struggled, it’s no secret. We haven’t had the car we had early in the season. We changed chassis, clutches, we faced the track prep reduction and we had a tough time. I feel a heck of a lot better today than I felt yesterday.
“I don’t think one race can make or break you. I feel like if nothing else were to change this weekend but leaving with the trophy, it changes the psychology of everyone on the team. Yeah, you know you’re capable of winning, but the last time was at Gainesville. To put it back in the winner’s circle again just reaffirms that we are coming up on the Countdown and we have a contending car. I like the way that we didn’t start (this weekend) phenomenally, but we picked away at it and got better, and got significantly better each time down the track today.”
Tommy Johnson Jr., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 5 Qualifier – 4.003 ET)
Rd.1: (.060-second reaction time, 3.988 seconds at 3320.66 mph) beat No. 12 Del Worsham (.044/4.691/204.42)
Rd.2: (.106/3.937/319.60) beat No. 4 Tim Wilkerson (.101/4.038/314.97)
Rd.3: (.091/3.950/323.97) beat No. 8 J.R. Todd (.099/3.973/324.05)
Rd.4: (.068/4.031/319.67) lost to No. 14 Jack Beckman (.027/3.961/325.69)
“It was a great weekend for our team, we made huge progress. You could see it coming the last few races, so super excited with how we’re running going into Indy and the Countdown. It broke a throttle air switch in the final round. After such a great day, to have something small like that break in the final is disappointing, but still all in all, a great day. The car is running really well. I look forward to testing this week and let’s see if we can get that Wally in Indy.”
Matt Hagan, Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car
(No. 3 Qualifier – 3.990 ET)
Rd.1: (.050-second reaction time, 4.101 seconds at 268.44 mph) lost to No. 14 Jack Beckman (.047/4.044/312.64)
“Right now, we are working to get this new body dialed in. It’s changed the whole dynamic of our racecar; the weight transfer is different, and this thing is making a lot more downforce on the nose. The car is going to be better, the numbers show it. We just have to figure out what this thing is asking for, and what adjustments we need to make. If anybody can figure it out, (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) can. It’s going to be really, really important for us to test at Indy and make those two or three days there really count.”
Leah Pritchett, Mopar Dodge Top Fuel Dragster
(No. 8 Qualifier – 3.818 ET)
Rd.1: (.074-second reaction time, 4.068 seconds at 276.92 mph) lost to No. 9 Scott Palmer (.064/3.837/325.06)
“Scott Palmer – I say it before I race him and after – you misstep ever so slightly, they’re there and they get you. We need to qualify a little better – we seem to have track record of doing better when we qualify better. Coming away from Brainerd, it’s just a little blip in the momentum, just like it was a little blip on the track today. I caught traction and we were able to hook up, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do in Indy.”
Ron Capps, NAPA Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car
(No. 2 Qualifier – 3.969 ET)
Rd.1: (.077-second reaction time, 4.382 seconds at 202.91 mph) lost to No. 15 Jonnie Lindberg (.085/4.070/316.01)
“I’ve been driving 22 years and a first-round loss like that hurts just as bad as it did during my rookie year in Funny Car. After you’ve gone through Friday and Saturday and feel how good your car is running underneath you, you really feel like you have a great chance at standing up there in the winner’s circle at the end of the day. I’m lucky I can jump back in the car this Thursday during our Indy test session. After a letdown here in Brainerd, I’m looking forward to getting right back in the car a few days later. It’s extra exciting this year because we’re going to test out some new aerodynamic things with Dodge.”